September 27, 2005

THE FACTS WEREN'T USEFUL WEAPONS:

Katrina Takes a Toll on Truth, News Accuracy: Rumors supplanted accurate information and media magnified the problem. Rapes, violence and estimates of the dead were wrong. (Susannah Rosenblatt and James Rainey, September 27, 2005, LA Times)

Maj. Ed Bush recalled how he stood in the bed of a pickup truck in the days after Hurricane Katrina, struggling to help the crowd outside the Louisiana Superdome separate fact from fiction. Armed only with a megaphone and scant information, he might have been shouting into, well, a hurricane.

The National Guard spokesman's accounts about rescue efforts, water supplies and first aid all but disappeared amid the roar of a 24-hour rumor mill at New Orleans' main evacuation shelter. Then a frenzied media recycled and amplified many of the unverified reports.

"It just morphed into this mythical place where the most unthinkable deeds were being done," Bush said Monday of the Superdome.

His assessment is one of several in recent days to conclude that newspapers and television exaggerated criminal behavior in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, particularly at the overcrowded Superdome and Convention Center.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 27, 2005 6:30 AM
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